Yoga Vita

Musings on Yoga, Life, and the Yoga Life


Flow, Escape, and My New Secret Obsession


I love those days when asana just seems to move through me without any particular mental effort of my own. I just set my mind aside and go, one posture flowing into the next in a long, intuitive chain. It’s one of the benefits of working on loosening up, I suppose, but it also seems to be due to a bit of grace, unasked for, undeserved, and freely given. I don’t want to say “I did it” because that seems to be an oversimplification at best. Maybe it’s a nice alignment of the planets plus a pinch of sunny weather plus the lingering effects of premenstrual relaxin. Maybe it was the grace of Ganesha. Plus I did it. Woo hoo!

I should point out that this experience of natural flow doesn’t mean asana was easy–it was as strenuous as ever–it’s rather that it had a wonderful feel to it. Presence. Ease. Calm absorption. Thank you, universe.

This brings to mind a passage from a book I recently read, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. It is an excellent book, delicious to read, which is why it’s words are still rattling around in my head. She recounts her Zen teacher saying, “When you do zazen, you should be gone. So zazen does zazen. Not Steve or Barbara does zazen.” She extends this to the practice of writing. Writing does writing. Yoga does yoga. Sounds a bit easier that way, doesn’t it?


I’ve been quite busy and in my head a lot lately. I’ve started taking new classes, embarking on a new volunteer position at the hospital, strategizing around ways to improve things at work, and on top of that, I’ve been compulsively devouring printed material. (Not literally, okay? I mean I’m reading a lot of books at the same time. Well, not at the same time exactly , but alternating. Anyway.) And whenever I get all cerebral and out of body, the energy of it all seems to stir up dreamy visions of escape. As in, I want to run off to some little island somewhere, and build a studio and become an “artist” of some sort (doesn’t really matter what kind), and change my name, and wear bright mismatched clothes or maybe just all white, and I just want to go absolutely mad. Feral, even.

Which makes me curious about the concept of escape. If I sold all my things and moved to some far off land for some completely irrational undertaking, would it really be escape? Or would it be a kind of diving in? I guess it all depends on one’s mindset and intention. I should rephrase that: It absolutely solely depends on one’s mindset and intention. The intention defines the personal meaning of the action, plain and simple. (The social meaning is another story.) Which is why. . . it doesn’t really much matter what I do. I can keep on doing the same old thing, or something new. The question is, am I escaping? Or am I diving in?

My New Secret Obsession

And now for something less philosophical. Or more, I don’t know yet. My new secret obsession! (Ooh la, la.) Yin yoga. Remember how I tried yin as something to do when I was dizzy for a week and taking a break from ashtanga? I can’t stop! I looove it! I’ve been practicing a sort of hybrid of ashtanga and yin when practicing at home, usually starting with the standing sequence and then moving on to a long, slow yin sequence. The practice of holding poses in a soft, passive way for longer periods of time has seriously opened up some areas that have been eternally challenging for me. A certain bit of my hamstrings. My pelvic area, especially my hip flexors. I haven’t experienced a major change yet, but I’ve experienced some change, which is plenty wonderful.

I used to think that when people were talking about “yin yoga,” it was just code for “easy yoga.” I thought, oh yeah, nice, I like easy yoga too. Now I understand quite clearly that it’s its own little thing. And a lovely little thing it is.